Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Blogivesary to Us!

Happy Blogiversary!! That's right, one year ago today, I started this little blog.  I have honestly really enjoyed blogging, since it gives me an opportunity to share my love of baking with a few more people (though not that many), and it gives me an excuse to bake more.

Since this is a big occasion for me, I wanted to make something special.  Something I've wanted to make for a while but never had a reason.  And, something I could stick a candle in.  By the way, I would like to make a shout out to C for the super cute cupcake candle holder and the green and red cupcake kitchen towels you see in the above photo.  I considered many recipes for this post, but in the end, I remembered that there was something I had been wanting to make for a long time, so I chose that option.  So, what is that delectable thing in the photos?  Why, it's a crepe cake!!

A crepe cake is basically what the name implies.  It's a cake made by layering crepes with some sort of filling -- in this case, chocolate pudding.  I was reminded of my desire to make one of these when I was perusing my newest cookbook, "Sugar Baby" by Gesine Bullock-Prado.  It's an amazing book, with wonderful recipes and beautiful pictures, as well as fun and interesting comments thrown in.  I highly recommend it if you are a baking and candy making lover like I am.  I ended up adapting my recipe from hers, because hers is a very rich version, with mocha crepes and bittersweet chocolate pudding.  I wanted something a little lighter, so I made plain vanilla crepes, and regular chocolate pudding, which I further lightened with a small amount of fresh whipped cream, and then topped with a milk chocolate ganache.  The recipe I have here is what I made.  For the original version, check out the book!

This dessert does not disappoint.  The multitude of thin layers made for a delightful texture.  It sort of reminded me of a grown up version of chocolate chip pancakes.  I loved it so much.

A few notes: 
  • Crepes are not difficult, but they take a little practice.  Even though the recipe says to melt a little butter in the pan before making crepes, and to melt more butter in the pan as needed between crepes, I actually found that mine came out better when I didn't add butter.  I guess that depends on the non-stickness of your pans.  I also found it easiest to spoon the two tablespoons of batter right into the middle of the pan, and swirl it around from there.  That gave me even and nice round crepes.  Use the thinnest non-metal spatula that you have to flip them, and remove them from the pan.  I ended up lifting it with a spatula, and then flipping it with my hands.  I don't recommend this because those babies are hot!
  • For the assembly, I would layer a crepe with a couple tablespoons of pudding, spread it around, put on another crepe, and then stick it in the freezer for a couple of minutes.  Sometimes I would do 2 or 3 layers between freezings.  I found this trick on the Sugar Baby website, and it was very helpful in keeping the layers stable (as the pudding warms, it gets squishier).
  • My pudding may have been a little too soft, because when I went to cut the cake, this is what happened:
Still tasty, just a little messy.  When I cut it the next day, after it had been in the fridge, I didn't have this problem. Oh well, I'll eat it anyway. 

Crepe Cake
Source: Adapted from "Sugar Baby" by Gesine Bullock-Prado

For the Crepes:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 cup whole milk, plus extra if needed
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup agave nectar*

*a note about agave nectar: yes, this is something a little more specialty than I would normally use, but I wanted to try it out.  It's not cheap, but I used it for both the crepes and the pudding, and I see myself using it in future.  It's a liquid, slightly thinner than honey.  I plan to try it in other recipes, and I'll let you know how it goes.
  1. Melt the butter (I did this in the microwave).
  2. Transfer the butter along with all the remaining ingredients into a blender of food processor and process until completely blended.
  3. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour to dissipate any bubbles left over from the blitzing, and to hydrate the flour and relax the gluten (fp note: since I made mine in the blender, I just put the lid on the blender pitcher and stuck it in the fridge. worked just fine)
  4. Pour the batter through a sieve and into a large container. If you find that the batter has thickened too much in the fridge to flow freely, stir in 1 tablespoon milk at a time until it reaches pourable consistency.
  5. In a 6-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat, melt a small pat of butter, swirling the pan to make sure it is evenly coated with butter but not with so much that it pools.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour 2 tablespoons of the crepe batter into the pan, swirling it around to coat the pan and form an even circle. Cook over medium-low heat until the crepe releases, then flip and cook until it is cooked through. Remove from the pan to a plate. Put parchment between each crepe so that they don't stick together when you stack them up.
  7. Repeat this process with the remaining batter.
  8. The crepes need to be completely cool before you layer them with the pudding.  Since I made all of mine at once, I put them in the fridge to cool a little bit.
For the Chocolate Pudding:

1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cocoa powder
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coffee
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup heavy cream, whipped (optional)
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the agave nectar, cocoa powder, heavy cream, and salt until the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coffee and cornstarch. While whisking constantly, add the egg yolks one at a time and then add the vanilla extract.
  3. Return the pan containing the cocoa mixture to the stove. Pour the egg mixture into the cocoa mixture, whisking constantly over medium heat. Clip on a candy thermometer and whisk for about 5 minutes, until the pudding thickens and the temperature reaches 200 F. 
  4. Transfer the pudding to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap touches the entire surface of the pudding.  Refrigerate until chilled. 
  5. When you are ready to use the pudding, gently fold in the whipped cream, if using. 
For the Milk Chocolate Ganache:

4 ounces milk chocolate (chopped or chips is fine)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

In a heatproof bowl set over a small pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate with the cream, stirring until completely smooth.  Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring to melt and combine.  Set aside and let it cool at room temperature until you are ready to use it, and it has reached a pourable consistency.

  1. Give the pudding a good stir to loosen up. 
  2. Lay a crepe on a serving plate.  With a small offset spatula, spread 1 heaping tablespoon of the pudding evenly over the crepe. Lay another crepe on top of the pudding, and spread another heaping tablespoon over the second crepe.  Repeat this process until you've using all your crepes.  Any left over pudding can be licked out of the bowl when no one's looking.
  3. Gently cover the crepe cake with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer to set for about 1 hour.  You don't want it frozen, just set enough to slice easily.  Right. That didn't work so well for me.


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